3 dead, 2 injured after shooting at Airbnb in Toronto, police not looking for suspects
Shooting happened in unit on 32nd floor of condo near Bathurst Street and Fort York Boulevard
Toronto police have identified the victims of a fatal shooting at a rented Airbnb in a downtown Toronto condo building on Friday night.
The shooting began in a unit on the 32nd floor of a condo on Queens Wharf Road, near Bathurst Street and Fort York Boulevard, before spilling into the hallway. Police received several 911 calls at 10:21 p.m. reporting the sound of gunshots.
The victims have been identified as Jalen Colley, 21, of Brampton, Ont., Joshua Gibson-Skeir, 20, of Brampton and Tyronne Noseworthy, 19, of Toronto.
Two of the men were pronounced dead at the scene, a third in hospital. A fourth man, 20, was taken to hospital with serious injuries. A fifth sustained a minor cut and is cooperating with police.
Police say they are not looking for any outstanding suspects in the shooting. "Preliminary investigation indicates that the shooters involved are now deceased," they said in a release Saturday evening.
So far, two firearms have been recovered from the condo building, police say.
Acting Det.-Sgt. Henri Marsman of Toronto police's homicide squad said there was a party in the unit and police are still investigating what led to the shooting.
Earlier Saturday, Marsman said police were still trying to contact the owners of the unit, who are Canadian citizens. Homicide detectives have taken over the investigation.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, Toronto's police chief Mark Saunders visited the scene to talk to reporters. Saunders said he came to the scene himself because of the seriousness of the situation.
"Well, first and foremost, anytime there's a loss of life, it is a concern, not just to the Toronto Police Service, but also to members of the community," Saunders said.
"I wanted to make sure that the adequate resources were, in fact, here and I wanted to make sure that we were taking all the steps necessary to resolve this investigation to the best of our ability," he added.
"Anytime that there is gunplay, it does concern me."
Residents say shooting 'obviously upsetting'
Allison Walker and David Olevson, who live and work in the area, said they were shocked to hear about the shooting. The couple were in an Uber on the way to the area where it happened when they heard the news.
"It's shocking. It's obviously upsetting to hear that. You don't want to hear something like that. You would hope that it would be a safe area to live in," Walker said.
Olevson added: "Of course, it really touches very close to home. It's very concerning. You see these kinds of issues coming up from Airbnb, where it's people that are not regular residents of where you live and are causing violence, and it's not good for us."
City launches community crisis response program
Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York, called the shooting a "tragic, brutal incident" for Toronto's CityPlace neighbourhood and said the community is in shock. He said the city has launched its community crisis response program for local residents.
City staff will go door-to-door in the building after the police investigation is over to provide support to residents in the wake of the shooting and to ensure they have access to counselling, mental health services and victim services if need be.
"Once the caution tape comes down, that's when the lingering trauma remains," Cressy said.
Speaking outside the building on Saturday, Cressy said the city has passed a bylaw that allows short-term rentals only in principal residences, but that bylaw is "under an active appeal" right now. He said the city is calling on operators of short-term rentals to abide by the bylaw voluntarily and "de-list" properties that aren't primary residences.
Fairbnb, a coalition of groups calling for more regulations for short-term rentals, said in a news release on Saturday that a group of Airbnb hosts are behind the latest appeal and the legal action is jeopardizing public safety. It said the shooting is the latest in a "string of violent incidents" in commercial short-term rentals in Ontario.
"The wait for Airbnb regulations to be enforced puts families like ours at risk," waterfront resident Rebecca Young said in the release.
"We rent in the downtown core so we can walk to school and our jobs — it's a great quality of life. Unfortunately, we are surrounded by apartments full of short-term rentals, not neighbours. This tragedy reminds us that we are choosing liveability over safety, which is an upsetting choice in a modern city."
Mayor says city seeking solutions to gun violence
Toronto Mayor John Tory called the shooting "unacceptable."
"These latest gun murders will not stop my determination to work with our police and all governments to combat gun violence in our city.," Tory said in a statement on Saturday.
Tory said Greater Toronto Area mayors met last Tuesday about gun violence and are calling on the federal government to take action at the border to stop the flow of guns into the city.
Tory noted that the city council budget, soon to be approved, includes "a significant new investment" in the police.
Lindsey Scully, spokesperson for Airbnb, said in a statement that the company is aware of the shooting, it has banned the booking guest from its platform, and the listing has been suspended pending further investigation.
"We are deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred in Toronto last night and our thoughts are with all who have been impacted — including the victims and their loved ones as well as the neighbouring residents," Scully said.
"We are in close co-ordination with Toronto Police Services to offer our full support of their investigation into this senseless gun violence. We have zero tolerance for this type of behaviour, and we ban both party houses and unauthorized parties on our platform."
No other "safety incidents" have been reported at the listing and Airbnb formally bans all "open invite" parties in condo buildings, Scully added.
Tamara Byrne, the building's property manager, issued a statement on Saturday, calling the incident "horrific." She added that many residents favour short-term rentals but many others are against them.
In light of Friday's shooting, Byrne said management will draft a rule to limit rentals that last less than three months.
Anyone who saw or heard anything related to the shooting is urged to call police.
With files from Lorenda Reddekopp, Kari Vierimaa, Greg Ross